Screen time: I’ve decided not to stress about it.

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via freeimages.com

If you want to get a group of parents squirming uncomfortably, apologizing for their choices, or climbing to the top of Mount Pious and waving their flags for all to see, bring up screen time for kids.

I have had dozens upon dozens of conversations with other parents about TVs/iPads/iPhones that include sentences like, “Well, I mean, I only let him watch for half an hour on the weekends.That’s not bad, right?” Or, “I let them watch for three hours straight the other day. I just needed a break. I know, it’s terrible.”

Let me give you the real shit right here: my kids get a ton of screen time. A TON. They’re on the iPad before school. They’re on the iPad after school. And sometimes they follow that up with video games after dinner. They have spent entire days in front of one screen or another. ENTIRE. DAYS.

Now, do I beat myself up about that? Yes. A little bit. It’s hard not to in the current parenting culture, where we are expected to martyr ourselves in both childbirth and parenting in order to prove our worth. We seem to think that unless we are struggling, we are not giving our children our best. It’s hard not to let that wiggle its way in to your head.

However, I am much more forgiving of myself than most people I know, and it breaks my heart when I hear other parents (most of the time, other moms) give themselves a hard time over letting their kids watch a few hours of TV.

No, screens should not be substitutes for parenting; ideally, your kid isn’t in front of a screen every waking minute of every day. As with most things in life and in parenting, it’s about balance. Sometimes you eat broccoli, and sometimes you eat Oreo ice cream sandwiches. Sometimes you do homework, sometimes you go out to play. Sometimes you watch TV, sometimes you…I don’t know…make puppets out of recycling and put on a show at the community p-patch. Or something.

Some days my kids gets tons of screen time, other days they get none at all. And it all seems to work out for us. It’d be one thing if I asked my kids what five plus five was, and they said “Pokemon.” But they don’t. So it’s cool. Besides, there are tons of great educational programs and websites out there. There is no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water; I mean, sometimes the baby poops in the tub, but other times it teaches your kid about planets and what the word “camouflage” means.

BALANCE!

So when my kids and I have conversations like the following, I don’t worry.

KIDS: “Mom, what is evolution?”

ME: “Well, evolution is how living things change and adapt over time.”

KIDS: “So it’s like an upgrade in a video game?”

ME: “You know what? Yes. It is exactly like that.”

Author: Meredith Bland

Meredith likes to write the funny at her blog, Pile of Babies (http://www.pileofbabies.com).

9 Comments

  1. Our guy just earned $20 by not playing or watch anyone else playing video games for a whole week. The triggering factor for this daring do was brought on by his cousins. My brother has two sons (9 and 12) that LIVE for video games on anything that can possibly be played on. He and his wife challenged them to not play video games during the summer. If they could pull it off, they would each earn $200. Neither one made it a week. Our son said, “I could make it a week.” And he did. Blew our minds. Now I’m not going to tell him that he really only earned $10, as his allowance is included in that. We asked him if he could do a month. He said, “Yeah, sure. I could do a month.” So, there’s a new challenge that if he can go a month without video games, he can earn $60. When we asked him if he wanted to do the month challenge, he paused his game just long enough to say, “Not right now. Maybe later.”

  2. I’m with you, sista.
    Icescreammama recently posted..More From The PitchMy Profile

  3. You know what? I think you got this parenting thing down! The very very first step is stop worrying about what someone else thinks about what you are doing.

    If we are home, or I guess I should say if I am home, the TV is on. My son moves from one media to another. He also runs and enjoys dodgeball. He is also in his senior year at DePaul University in the CMD area. He was allowed to play gameboy when he was 5 because you had to read to play pokemon. you know what? he is now 21 and still plays Pokemon. He’s a good kid. My girl? She makes me a little crazy with her i-phone from time to time, but she rarely farts around on the computer and I have come home more than once to her reading, with the TV off. (I read with the TV on. I guess I like the company)

    Yeah, it sounds to me like you are doing things right….

  4. Love this!!! The whole thing!!

  5. I’m embarrassed to say how much time my teenagers spend in front of their computers – then again, I’m embarrassed to say how much time I spend in front of mine! Unfortunately, we’re all HAPPY when we’re allowed to do what we want and, as long as real life stuff gets done, I like it when we’re all happy! You sound like you’re a good mama and I’m glad you don’t feel about it! :)
    Cathy Olliffe-Webster recently posted..The bestest kind of poetryMy Profile

  6. My son is home from camp today b/c of a fever and he’s watching Toy Story 2. I’m reading your blog. I feel like I’m supposed to be cuddling him and looking into his eyes. But neither of us particularly want that. I like your views on this.
    christie recently posted..Lapsed Catholic Mother With Kids In Jewish Summer CampMy Profile

  7. Just finished laughing through your blog “10 Surprises From The First Days After Delivery”…….OMG….so so funny :-). I passed it on to my daughter-in-law who will deliver via C-section in October. This is her second C-section, so I’m sure she can relate to your blog. She also has flat nipples and ended up pumping….via a NIPPLE GUARD!!!!! Yeah, who knew there was such a thing!!!!! Anyway, it all worked out. Looking forward to checking out the rest of your blogs :-). Thanks for the humor!!!

  8. I love you. I could just leave it at that, but I have to also say that this post was sooooo appropriately timed for me! I have three kids, and I’m a teacher. This means that for years I deal with the guilt of the fact that over the summer, I let my kids eat junk, stay up as late as they want, and watch horrible amounts of tv and play computer games all day. I need the break as much as they do, and I figure those days are offset by the days we go to the lake, go to the pool, they go to camp, etc. Overall, I’m on the mission lately to parent my children the way that I see fit and stop feeling guilty about it! Thanks for the timely post, and you keep on keeping on, sistah.

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